OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Peacebuilding - Official Efforts of UN and Regional Organizations

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Peacebuilding involves establishing normalized relations between ordinary citizens on both sides of a conflict. Although it can be done at any time, peacebuilding efforts usually follow peacekeeping (the enforced prevention of further violence) and peacemaking (the forging of an actual settlement agreement). Unlike peacekeeping which can be implemented relatively quickly, and peace-making, which can occur over a period of a few months, peacebuilding usually takes a number of years. John Paul Lederah, an expert on peacebuilding, has observed that it takes people at least as long to get out of a conflict as it does to get into one--and some of the conflicts he has been involved in have gone on for decades, or even centuries. So peacebuilding is a very long, slow process.

Peacebuilding usually involves efforts to increase "normal," cooperative contacts between opponents. Stephen Ryan explains that peacekeeping "builds barriers between warriors," while peacebuilding "builds bridges between the ordinary people." Efforts are made to open channels of communication, get people involved in joint projects, work with the media and the educational system to try to break down stereotypes and reduce prejudice and discrimination. The goal of all of these efforts is reconciliation--getting the people to accept each other as part of their own group or be reconciled to mutual co-existence and tolerance.

Often peacebuilding programs are carried out by nongovernmental organizations, but the United Nations and regional organizations such as the Organization of American States or the Organization for African Unity have engaged in peacebuilding efforts as well. Some examples of these are given below.


Links to Examples of Official Peacebuilding:

Neil J. Kritz -- The Dilemmas of Transitional Justice
This is an article about the dilemmas new governments face regarding peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts with the old regime. Arguments can be made that the old regime should be prosecuted for past human rights abuses; equally valid arguments can be made that the old regime should be granted amnesty from prosecution. Regardless of the path chosen, the author cautions that failing to deal adequately with transitional justice issues will be very costly over the long term.
Caesar Sereseres -- Case Study: The Regional Peacekeeping Role of the Organization of American States
This article highlights the obstacles to peacebuilding and the success of the CIAV(International Commission for Support and Verification), a commission formed by the Organization of American States to oversee the demobilization and disarmament of the National Resistance in Nicaragua, and to carry out their reintegration into Nicaraguan society.
Elise Boulding -- United Nations Conflict Resolution Attempts in Afghanistan, United Nations Peacebuiding in Namibia, United Nations Conflict Resolution Attempts in Central America with the OAS
These three brief anecdotes describe UN peacekeeping in Afghanistan, Namibia, and Central America (through the OAS).
Mohamed Sahnoun -- Managing Conflicts in the Post-Cold War Era
This article examines military and humanitarian interventions in communal conflicts. Sahnoun compares official peacebuilding with NGO efforts, observing that NGOs can often be more successful at peacebuilding because they are more flexible in the kinds of activities they can undertake.
Conflict Transformation by Heidi Burgess and Guy Burgess
The set of articles available at this location describe John Paul Lederach's concept of conflict transformation, discuss its components (peace, justice, truth, mercy, and reconciliation, and describe how these relate to peacebuilding).

Links to Outside Sources of Information:

US Institute of Peace Special Report-The U.S. Contribution to Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution in Africa

U.S. Institute of Peace--Why Peace Agreements Succeed or Fail


Links to Related Approaches:

NGO Peacebuilding

NGO Humanitarian Aid


Joint Projects


Links to Related Problems:

Integrative Power

Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu